Elected leaders in Northern Virginia have sent a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) telling them they will not lift coronavirus restrictions despite the governor’s announcement that restrictions may start to be lifted on Friday, May 15.
The Washington Post reported the leaders, representing Northern Virginia’s five largest jurisdictions – Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, along with the city of Alexandria – said they were not ready to reopen, as coronavirus deaths and new cases continued to climb. The leaders represent nearly 2.4 million Virginia residents in the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Northam announced last week that the state may begin reopening on May 15, though heavy restrictions would still be in place.
“All of our efforts have slowed our spread, but not cured the disease. Even when we ease some restrictions, we must continue to behave more cautiously than before,” Northam told on May 4. “We are not entering phase one today, or this week. I expect we may be able to enter it next week.”
Phase one would allow some previously deemed nonessential businesses like restaurants and hair salons to reopen with restrictions.
“Here’s the bottom line: You’ll be able to get your hair cut, but you’ll need an appointment. And you’ll see new safety measures in the salon,” Northam said. “It means you can go out to eat again. But restaurants will use less of their seating, so to spread people out. Employees will wear face coverings.”
The Northern Virginia leaders said their region was not ready for phase one.
“We eagerly wish to rebuild our economy and help our residents recover,” the officials wrote in their letter.
“It is only through our regional achievement of these milestones that we will be positioned to avoid a more damaging return to business closures later in the summer,” they added.
A spokeswoman for Northam said it was the governor who requested the regional officials write the letter to ensure unity across Northern Virginia and avoid different policies in neighboring counties.
“He asked for this formal communication to demonstrate unity across the diverse Northern Virginia region, which is critical to a continued successful mitigation strategy,” said Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky. “He appreciates their willingness to work with him on this responsible, data-driven and health-based approach.”
More than 781,000 people in the area that includes Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. have filed for unemployment in the past seven weeks, the Post reported. More than 62,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the region, and 2,806 people have died.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) suggested small shops and businesses with curbside service might be able to reopen on Friday. Hogan already reopened beaches and golf courses in the state. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has so far refused to lift coronavirus restrictions.
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